We all start our baseball journeys at different times in our lives. For me, it was at birth, when my parents gave me the honor of Casey as my middle name. It was not until I was older that I realized it was after Casey Stengel, a fact I learned while seated in Shea Stadium’s field level, box 164. My parents would park my stroller in the one nook they could find that just happened to be next to their seats, but also magically didn’t block the walkway. I was the girl who brought coloring books and dolls to the game because I was too young to care about the game in front of me. I would force my dad and the other box owners around us to eat peanuts so I could stomp on the shells. It was at a time in baseball history when you knew your usher, your hot dog vendor, and your bathroom attendant. My parents could let me run around knowing that the stadium employees would watch me while they watched their favorite players.
Little did I know that this game would become one of the most important aspects of my life. That it would become my favorite form of procrastination.
Now, I go to a game with my hat secured safely on my head and my blue and orange shoelaces tied tight. I wear my Mets pocket watch, even though it hasn’t had working batteries for years. I await the chance to make fun of my father, who always somehow makes a mistake while scoring, even though he’s been doing it for more than 50 years.
I was six years old during the 1999 NLCS against the Atlanta Braves. I was home sick and my dad stayed with me while my mom and brother went to the game. He was pacing back and forth, anxious about extra innings and my brother, only nine at the time, who was caught in the rain. I told him, "Relax, you gotta believe!" Unfortunately, I fell asleep right before Robin Ventura hit the grand slam single against relief pitcher Kevin McGlinchy.
I was 13 during the 2006 playoffs. We sat in the same seats in the loge section at Shea for every home playoff game. It was an area filled with people just like us: we all had the weekend season ticket plan. We had gotten to know each other throughout the season and it was always a party when we were all at the game. I was able to enjoy the pure bliss of the Endy Chavez catch and the utter disappointment of Carlos Beltran striking out looking. I never thought that a mere nine years later, I’d be riding this roller coaster again.
Every game day I walk out of the dugout and onto the field, ready to play. Except my dugout is the streets of New York and my field is the Playwright Irish Pub on 35th. The welcoming high fives and smiles are my equivalent of the announcer calling my name while I high five my team down the first base line. I’ve always felt like a part of the team, but never like this before.
The Playwright has created a space for fans to cheer together and even pretend that we know the words the "Lazy Mary." A place to exchange our best and worst Mets stories and come together like the family we are. For some, 2000 was filled with horror as they watched the Mets lose to the Yankees. For others, such as Blanche Jacobsen, watching Todd Zeile homer in the NLCS Game 5 against the Cardinals was one of her favorite moments. Jacobsen had recently been diagnosed with breast cancer and the shake of the stadium and the clinch was great motivation to get healthy. It was a day she’ll never forget.
"I was crying and shaking with joy when I sat down for a minute to catch my breath. I realized that my body was still moving because the stadium was moving. Later on, I heard that Tim McCarver was doing the announcing and he said the booth was shaking like an earthquake."
On my first trip to the Playwright, I went alone for Game 1 of the NLCS against the Cubs. I sat down at the bar, waiting anxiously for the game to start. Next to me was a small group of soon-to-be friends, talking Mets of course. I found my moment and jumped into the conversation. I had no idea that two weeks later, I’d still be going back, night after night, with them. I had no idea that I’d find a home in a small Irish pub. Together we cried, sweat, and bled for our Mets, as the Mets cried, sweat, and bled for us.
This postseason has become one full of memories. It has only recently dawned on me that I had become a part of many peoples’ postseason memories as the bartender gave me champagne after the last out of the ninth inning in Game 4 against the Cubs. I jumped onto the bar top, champagne in hand, and sprayed the ecstatic sea of fans surrounding me. With a now-empty bottle, 1010 Sports Radio interviewed me the moment I jumped down from the bar. It was that clubhouse moment that we all dream about.
Not everyone would want to cheer on a bar top, or hold a broom in the air after we swept the Cubs; we all enjoy our games differently. Some of us like to surround ourselves with friends and family, sharing the moments together. Some of us have our TVs muted so that we can hear Howie Rose call the last out on the radio. Even more, some of us have crazy superstitious things, like always wearing the same blue hat in the same direction, or not wearing the color gray. But that is what makes this fan base so special. As this team has grown, so have we. We’ve become players in our own right, like the pitchers who jump over the line instead of stepping on it.
As the Mets find themselves two games back of the Royals in the World Series, our cheers at the Playwright are not just for our beloved players. They are for all the fans everywhere, both here in New York and across the globe. For the people dressed from head to toe in orange and blue, sitting on the edges of their seats. For the people who have been waiting since 1986 to feel like this again, and for those who are experiencing this for the first time. For Blanche Jacobsen, who fought for her life and is thrilled to be able to watch her boys in the World Series again. For too long we’ve been the group that always said, "Don’t worry, next year is our year." We finally get to say, "This year is our year."